Liver Spots on Dogs

Liver spots are also known as age spots, and are common in humans that are over the age of 40. The liver spots occur as a reaction to sun exposure and are not associated with a liver condition. Dogs can also get liver spots when they get older. However, the spots may be mistaken for other skin conditions.

Causes of Liver Spots in Dogs

Liver spots can appear on the dog's skin and are more common after the age of 5. The causes of liver spots are not related to a liver problem, but are triggered by exposure to the sun's rays. The UVA and UVB rays are responsible for activating the dog's skin pigmentation, resulting in spots.

Symptoms of Liver Spots

The spots may be brown or darker in color and may be more common in areas that are not protected by hair. The spots won't cause pain or itchiness, and hair can grow normally on these spots.

However, certain spots may be mistaken for liver spots. Skin melanomas may look like liver spots in the incipient phase. Certain fungal or bacterial skin infections can cause the formation of spots. In this case, the skin will be itchy and the dog will scratch, causing redness and swelling. The skin may also have a distinctive odor, if the dog has an infection.

Detecting Liver Spots

Tests are necessary to distinguish between liver spots and other skin conditions. A skin scraping test is important to detect if the dog has a skin infection. A skin biopsy can be performed if the vet suspects a skin tumor or cancer. If the dog's spots are indeed liver spots, the tests will show no signs of bacteria, fungi or cancerous cells.

Treatment for Liver Spots

The liver spots cannot be treated. The skin pigmentation may fade if the dog is not exposed to sun for a longer period of time, but the liver spots will not disappear. There are no conventional treatments that can eliminate liver spots. There may be a few alternative medicine solutions that could reduce the appearance of the liver spots. However, the condition is not life threatening and it doesn't cause pain or discomfort, so you don't need to worry about treatment.

Preventing Liver Spots

The name of liver spots is not accurate and was given to the condition in the past, when people used to think the spots were associated with a liver problem. However, the liver spots occur due to extended sun exposure and aging, so the only way to prevent these is to keep the dog away from the sun and to use canine sun block when the dog is outdoors, even during colder seasons. The sun protection factor should be adjusted according to the skin type of your pet. A dog with lighter skin will require a higher protection factor. A short haired dog will need an SPF that is higher than in dogs with long hair.